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City: Rancho Palos Verdes
Begins: Apr 25, 2015
Date: Tue, Apr 14th, 2015
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I'm Off Again
Well, I’m off again on another adventure but this one is a little different. The trail is called the Camino de Santiago and it is a path that has existed for centuries. Its roots lie in Christianity and it has been a pilgrimage trail used by hundreds of thousands. Today it is a very popular with over a quarter of a million “pilgrims” hiking the network of trails that converge on Santiage de Compostela each year. It’s not a wilderness trail in the sense of the National Scenic Trails in the US. Instead, it’s full of towns and villages each having hostels, or aubergues, that provide overnight accommodations. Restaurants are set up for the hiker with all you can eat specials. Also, apart from the first day that goes over the Pyrenees, there aren’t any real mountains, it’s mostly rolling hills through farmland and woods.
But first, here is the plan. I fly to Paris on 23rd April, arriving on the 24th. I then have a local flight to Biarritz which is on the French coast at the south west corner next to the border with Spain. From there, I’ll walk the 7 km to Bayenne and catch a train to St Jean Pied de Port. This is the starting point for the Camino de Frances which is the oldest and most travelled of the routes that make up the Camino de Santiago trail network. If nothing gets delayed, I’ll have time to get my Camino “Passport” which is document I’ll have to get stamped at every stop on the way to Santiago de Compostela in the north west corner of Spain close to the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll start the walk on the morning of the 25th. The distance to Santiago de Compostela is 776 km which is 482 miles, but since I need to get used to thinking in km that’s the units I’m going to use in this journal. The conversion factor is 1.6 km per mile if you need it. How long this will take is a big question at the moment. If I did my usual pace of 20 miles per day, I’d get to Santiago in just over three weeks, but my hope and expectation is that I’ll force myself to go slower and try to take in as much of the scenery and culture as I can and I’ll probably take a few of the recommended detours on the way.
That’s only half the plan, however. As I said earlier there is a network of trails throughout Europe that all converge on Santiago de Compostela. One of those is the Camino Portugues that goes from Lisbon to Santiago. I am going to take that one as well but in the reverse direction heading towards Lisbon. I’m not sure if I’ll get that far since I have a time constraint for the return flight out of Lisbon on 9th June. The Camino Portugues is another 614 km so overall the distance will be 1390 km if I do it all.
If you know me, you might be asking why on earth would I attempt this particular trail and in many ways I’m asking myself the same question. After all, I’ve already hiked around 8,000 miles doing the Triple Crown, so I don’t think I still need to “find myself” though a solitary hike of reflection. A couple of good friends did this hike last year and they had a wonderful time. I saw their pictures and they certainly had a lot of different experiences than I’ve seen out in the wild. Their enthusiasm was very infectious. Then, I watched the film “The Way” starring Martin Sheen and produced and directed by Emilio Estevez. It’s a film about a father whose son is killed walking over the Pyrenees on his first day on the Camino (not a common occurrence I gather). Trying to understand why his son wanted to do this pilgrimage, Sheen decided to walk it himself and the film recounts highlights of his journey. The scenery looked very appealing despite the lack of mountains and his experiences on the trail were interesting to say the least. The film is readily available on Netflix if you’re interested. I was looking for something a little bit different than another thru hike and this seems to fit the bill. It won’t take as long and it won’t be quite as grueling. It’ll certainly be an opportunity to meet different people from around the world as I’ll have plenty of company. Let’s hope it’ll be interesting for all of you as well.
Camino De Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.
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